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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-20386: Gail Ross (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 5 December 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to alleviate fuel poverty in rural areas, and how the level of rural fuel poverty compares with urban areas.

Answered by: Kevin Stewart 13 December 2018

We already provide extensive support to remote, rural and island communities and are committed to working with stakeholders to develop more innovation and flexibilities across all local area on delivery of our programmes. We are committed to continuing to spend more per head on energy efficiency in remote rural areas, where we know that installation and labour costs are higher. Since 2013-14 our remote and rural areas have received almost £64 million in investment through our Home Energy Efficiency Programmes (HEEPS). This funding is distributed based on an assessment of need, which means remote areas receive more money per head of population to tackle fuel poverty. For example, the maximum grant available to households in remote rural areas through the HEEPS Area Based scheme has risen since 2013 to £9,000. This is compared with a maximum grant of £7,500 elsewhere in Scotland.

We have also reviewed Warmer Homes Scotland, our national fuel poverty scheme, to see how it can better support those in rural communities. Following this review, we are making available additional new measures that are particularly beneficial to rural and remote communities. This includes asbestos removal and the installation of fuel storage tanks and low energy lighting. It also includes ground source heat pumps, micro-wind and micro hydro systems that will particularly benefit remote rural areas not served by the gas grid.

The latest Scottish House Condition survey statistics indicate that, during 2017, the rate of fuel poverty in urban areas was 21%, compared to 43% in rural areas. That is why we will continue to work closely with all local authorities, to ensure local needs are reflected in delivery, making for more effective measures and improved lives.